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How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?
Meatwad: "I just figured Santa was off to an early start this year. Because, you know, statistics show that there are more children in the world today. That's China's fault."
Frylock: "Where did you hear that?"
Meatwad: "Regis."

A question often brought up to disprove the existence of Santa Claus: How the hell could he deliver all those toys to so many children in one night? There are so many factors involved, it just wouldn't be possible by natural means.

But of course when Santa has flying reindeer and elves working with him, he might not be limited to natural means. The usual answer is that he can stop time.

Interestingly, most fiction questions ONLY how the toys are delivered, not how so many adults (even in the worlds of fiction) can fail to notice the toys, and thus not believe in him.

This trope comes into play whenever someone asks the question, but often someone will have an answer, or when Santa is shown to be real, we are given the actual answer.

Not to be confused with Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Azumanga Daioh - Under the impression that Chiyo might still believe in Santa Claus, Kagura starts making up increasingly wild claims as to how Santa accomplishes his mission.
    Tomo: Well, then how does he visit all those houses in one night?
    Kagura: Santa can fly crazy fast! Like Mach 100!

Comic Books
  • Played with in a DC Comics Holiday Special, in which Max Mercury (a super-speedster) has a great deal of trouble convincing Impulse (another speedster) that Santa doesn't exist.
    Max: How does he visit all those houses in one night?
    Impulse: Super-speed. Duh.
  • The Fables version of Santa Claus uses co-location. Time flows normally, but Santa is everywhere he needs to be all at the same time.

Comic Strips
  • In The Perishers, Baby Grumpling asks a related question.
    Baby Grumpling: But how can he come down our chimney?
    Maisie: What do you mean?
    Baby Grumpling: Well, we've got a stove. With a stovepipe. Which is only three inches wide. And it leads into the red hot stove. Which has got knobs on.
    Maisie: HE GOES ON A CRASH DIET, WEARS FLAMEPROOF UNDERWEAR, AND CARRIES A SET OF BURGLARY TOOLS!
    Baby Grumpling: All right, all right! There's no need to lose your temper.

Film
  • In Santa Claus The Movie, the head elf says that "Time itself shall travel with you." A very mystical, and extraordinarily atmospheric, way of saying that time doesn't always flow for him the way it does for most people.
  • In Ernest Saves Christmas, Ernest gives a spoof answer involving physics babble.
  • Neil asks Charlie this in The Santa Clause stating that Santa somehow slows down time.
  • In the new Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle explains that time slows down as he delivers presents.
  • Inverted in the movie Elf. Buddy is confused as to why so many people don't believe in Santa Claus, and wonders who the non-believing children think deliver all the presents. When Papa Elf responds that they believe their parents put the toys there, Buddy scoffs, saying "That's ridiculous! Parents couldn't do all that in one night!"

Literature
  • Brought up in Artemis Fowl. The answer is to stop time and get ALL of the elves to chip in on the delivery business.
  • In Hogfather, Death simply states that Hogswatchnight is a special time. One where his manservant Albert can be alive all night, despite having only a few seconds left.
  • In The Dresden Files's earliest short stories, Harry mentions in passing that Santa doesn't actually hand out toys to anyone but a small amount of children per Christmas.
  • In The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear, Sister Bear asks this to Papa, along with a few other questions about Santa.

Live Action Television
  • This question is posed in The Nanny's animated Christmas episode "Oy to the World":
    Grace: Fran, the storm is getting worse. How is Santa going to deliver all the presents?
    Fran: Gracie, the man is bigger than Dom De Luise and he fits through a chimney. Believe me, he can get through a blizzard.
  • Oscar the Grouch asks Big Bird this in the classic Christmas Eve On Sesame Street.

Music
  • At the end of the Star Wars Concept Album Christmas In The Stars, the droids are visited by S. Claus, the son of Santa. He explains that Santa gets help from his family to deliver toys across the galaxy.

Videogames

Webcomics
  • In Sluggy Freelance Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have the power to move at incredible speeds so they can deliver presents and painted eggs, respectively. Under rare circumstances, they can use this power outside of running deliveries, sending them rocketing up the Super Weight scale.

Web Original
  • SF Debris' original story "You Better Watch Out" features a dark backstory to Santa: he was a con man in Austria whose punishment in death is to live up to his description of himself. When he is delivering presents, time is stopped, and when he wakes up the next morning, it's Christmas Eve the following year.

Western Animation
  • In an animated Family Circus special, Jeffy asks Billy this, and Billy says Santa has a watch that stops time.
  • Grimly deconstructed in Family Guy "The Road to the North Pole", where keeping this up turned the workshop into a Nightmarish Factory, and nearly gave Santa a fatal Heroic RROD.
  • This is mentioned in the Recess episode "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave", in which Mikey attempts to prove that Santa is real and indeed can deliver all those toys. Gretchen counters that a man of his size could not fit through the chimney and that the speed he would need to travel at is simply impossible.
  • The concept behind Prep and Landing is that an elite team of Christmas Elves go ahead of Santa to prep each home for his arrival. It doesn't explain everything, but it does imply that the elves do most of the heavy lifting.
    • Although the short feature "Prep and Landing: Secret Santa" implies that St. Nick started by himself and brought the elves on as his enterprise expanded. (And the elves get a pension implying they can eventually retire.)
  • In the animated film, Arthur Christmas, its revealed that all the presents get delivered by Santa's high-tech operation hidden beneath the north pole. And here is the EXTREMELY high-tech sleigh
    • This is only after the original sleigh is retired following a snafu with the previous Santa, who was detected by world governments who tried to shoot him down. Until then, Santas really did use a sleigh pulled by reindeer using magical pixie dust. While the new high-tech sleigh, called S-1, is larger by several orders of magnitude, it's also designed using modern stealth technology and even has active camouflage.
  • The Codename: Kids Next Door An Ass Kicking Christmas episode gives us an atypical explanation; instead of going out in a reindeer-pulled sleigh, Santa teleports the gifts directly to homes, with Christmas trees acting as homing beacons.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny's parents argue over whether Santa Claus is real or not. Maddie reasons that it would be impossible for someone to travel around the world at a high enough speed to do it in one night without being burned up.

Other
  • One December issue of a children's science magazine responded to this question with a theory involving wormholes.
  • According to humorist Gene Weingarten, to reach all of the roughly 2 billion children on earth in 24 hours would require Santa to go at a speed approaching lightspeed, which on the first stop would destroy the world and all the little kiddies.
  • In a Finnish newspaper comic Väinämöisen paluu ("Vainamoinen Returns") the explanation of time-stopping hourglass is used. And then the Fridge Logic is played for all its worth, stating that Santa needs to work nonstop for weeks of subjective time, and needs intensive therapy every time to get over the stress and sleep deprivation.
  • A few TV specials suggest Santa air drops some or many of his gifts while flying over houses, as one way of speeding up delivery of his packages to everyone (without having to physically go into every home). This is seen in a few of the Flintstones Christmas specials, plus the end credits of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Several websites and news outlets do segments around Christmas Eve calculating how fast Santa would have to travel in order to accomplish his task in one day, usually defined as being December 24th in whatever local time zone he was in at the moment. Specific calculations vary depending on assumptions made: how long he has to visit each household, whether he visits every household on Earth or only where Christmas is widely celebrated, whether Santa can only travel after dark, etc. The path plotted generally go east to west to take advantage of the Earth's rotation as much as possible. Conclusions range from around Mach 5 to faster than the speed of light.


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alternative title(s): Deconstructing Santa
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